International consultant on timber prefabrication Johann Betz is urging New Zealand companies operating in the residential construction sector to benefit from a study tour to Germany and Austria that he is organising for later this year.
According to Mr Betz, the tour will improve their knowledge of prefabrication and construction productivity.
“For companies wanting to future-proof their business performance, this trip will equip them with transferable skills and a new dimension of business performance,” Mr Betz says.
Mr Betz, an expert on emerging wood technologies, highlights that once alternative building practices and the associated incremental productivity gains are witnessed first hand, it becomes difficult to justify remaining with the status quo.
“If the design is done with prefabrication in mind then the actual construction time can be dramatically reduced.
“Assembling completed wall and floor panels onsite rather than individual sticks of timber for framing is a huge time saver. Panelised prefabricated homes can be weathertight within a day or two, meaning that only interior outfitting and finishing is needed,“ Mr Betz says.
“The tradition of outdoor onsite construction with scaffolding, dust nets, noise and materials being stacked and unstacked and often exposed to the climate for long periods at a time continues to plague not only the building industry per se but also anyone living within a 1km radius of the construction. This method is costly, slow, and beset by onsite delays,” he says.
He refers to health and safety trends as providing further reason to look out for cleaner, faster, greener construction methods.
Mr Betz emphasises there are significantly better options for all builders and home owners who want to witness productivity increases, along with their customers settling into their “dream homes” more quickly.
By shifting from onsite stick framing to prefabrication of wall, floor and roof panels in a controlled environment, the exterior wall panels can be pre-insulated, pre-clad, pre-wired and, in some cases, even pre-plumbed.
This ensures rigid quality control and plenty of scrutiny in the factory, and removes the need to “police builders” working all over the construction site.
Mr Betz has organised a study tour to Germany and Austria later in the year to assist visionary New Zealand companies to connect with prefabrication construction techniques.
The trip will include visits to a show home village showcasing 55 high quality homes built offsite, and a visit to several panelised prefabricators, among them Baufritz GmbH, Germany’s most sustainable company of the year 2009. The tour will cover the spectrum from small manual prefabrication operation requiring very little capital investment to larger prefabrication operations, and from detached family homes to multi-storey medium density housing.
The trip is timed to coincide with the 19th IHF – International Timber Construction Forum in Garmisch, Germany. This is the largest and most relevant conference on prefabrication and construction of timber buildings, attracting more than 1500 delegates from around the world.